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A Blueprint for Relapse Prevention

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Relapse prevention is not as simple as avoiding drugs and alcohol.  In fact, preventing relapse requires a strategy and a plan for handling risky situations.  Many people relapse during the course of recovery, especially as an individual’s situation changes.  Each situation we face may require a different aftercare strategy, but if we’re armed with the right tools, we can make it much easier to avoid relapsing, even in high-risk situations.

What does your aftercare blueprint look like?

Before leaving rehab, many individuals work with their counselor to set up an aftercare plan for relapse prevention.  Based on an individual’s experience with drugs and alcohol, the frequency and duration of use, and a person’s emotional, mental and physical situation, an aftercare plan is a comprehensive blueprint for sober living.  Aftercare plans lay out the ongoing treatment, meetings and groups a person will continue to go to for follow up care.  The plan may be updated or changed based on changing circumstances, but only with the input of a counselor or health professional.

Strategies for Relapse Prevention

Part of a strong aftercare plan is to arm yourself with a blueprint for handling high risk situations like parties, holidays, emotional circumstances or the events that lead to use in the first place.

Here are some effective strategies for relapse prevention in high risk situations:

Avoid High-Risk Situations.  It can be hard to identify trigger situations outside of rehab, but places you know you are going to be tempted to use drugs and alcohol should be avoided.  Identify these places as part of your aftercare plan.  Remember your recovery comes first, above everything else.  Avoiding situations you know are high risk for relapse may be hard, but hopefully you have a supportive social network to assist you.  This may be as simple as always having a sober support with you when you socialize with certain people or completely avoiding certain people and places.

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Support Yourself.  If you know you may be in a high risk situation and you cannot avoid it, support your sobriety yourself.  If you are in recovery for alcohol abuse, bring non-alcoholic beverages, games and other activities that do not involve drinking when you attend a summer barbeque.   Offer to DJ an event instead of going as a guest, the added responsibility may help keep you accountable to yourself and others. You are the strongest advocate for your recovery. Use your own strength as a relapse prevention tool.

Support Others.  One of the great aspects of rehab is the supportive environment, even in aftercare.  Once you’ve been sober long-term it doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.  Instead, hold yourself accountable to others.  Join alumni and aftercare groups and become another individual’s relapse prevention tool.  Being a sober buddy may help you make better decisions yourself, even in high risk situations, knowing that someone else is counting on you.

Gratitude Lists.  The best tool for relapse prevention is to remain focused on your sober success. Keep your gratitude list close at hand.  If you find yourself tempted to use drugs or alcohol, excuse yourself and review your gratitude list.  Refocus yourself on how much you’ve accomplished in the time you’ve been sober, even if it has only been three days.  A list of positive aspects of your sober life will help you remember how far you’ve come.

Many people relapse during the course of recovery, so do not despair if you’ve stumbled. It is never too late to seek treatment and to get back on the healthy, sober path.  Please call us today to inquire about our aftercare and relapse prevention programs.  Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service drug and alcohol addiction women’s health treatment facility in Florida for women who suffer from substance abuse and behavioral health issues.

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